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Roger W. Burdette's letter to the editor in Coin World was spot-on! regarding Variety Attributions

edited December 2022 in Grading
A couple of weeks ago Coin World published RWB's letter. The letter was basically a plea to CAC to not follow the status quo of the existing TPG's
regarding how and which VARIETIES are recognized by the TPGs.


What follows are my own observations of how the process works at PCGS:

In general PCGS recognizes those varieties that are published in one of the books in this list:

Half Cents (1793-1857) by Cohen numbers
Large Cents (1793-1814) by Sheldon numbers
Large Cents (1816-1857) by Newcomb numbers
Half Dimes (1794-1837) by Logan/McCloskey numbers
Dimes (1796-1837) by John Reich Society numbers
NEW Liberty Seated Dimes (1837-1891) by Fortin numbers
Quarter Dollars (1796-1838) by Browning numbers
Half Dollars (1794-1836) by Overton numbers
Capped Bust Reeded Edge Half Dollars (1836 – 1839) by the Dick Graham (GR) numbers
Liberty Seated Half Dollars by Wiley-Bugert (WB) number
Dollars (1794-1804) by Bolender and Bowers/Borckardt numbers
Morgan and Peace Dollars (1878-1935) by VAM numbers (Includes TOP 100, HOT 50, and Hit List 40; see VAM Variety list)
Gold Quarter Eagles, Half Eagles and Eagles (1795-1834) by Bass/Dannreuther numbers
Fivaz-Stanton Varieties from the Cherrypickers Guide, Fourth Edition Vol. II and Fifth Edition Vol. I (see list for exclusions)

But here is the rub. New varieties are being discovered all the time!

Let's say a dealer discovers a new re-punched mint mark on a Kennedy half that is unlisted. He contacts Customer Service, or possibly even whomever is the lead worker in the "Variety Department" at PCGS. 99.9% of the time the dealer will be told simply, "NO! We will ONLY designate published varieties."

But the only published Reference on the list for Kennedys is Fivaz-Stanton's CPG. So now, the discovery will have to be blessed by whomever reviews prospective "possible inclusions" to be included in a future edition of the CPG. In the past that review team was largely Fivaz, Stanton, Larry Briggs and maybe one or two confederates.

And therein lies a big problem. IMHO those guys have not always exercised sound judgment. They include some varieties that are ridiculously common and/or ridiculously minor, while ignoring other significant varieties that are far rarer and far more significant.

Examples:
The 1963 50c Doubled Die Reverse FS-801. This is an ultra common coin, an ultra common variety, and the doubling is very insignificant (tiny shift in the motto E Pluribus Unum only). As such it should have never been included in the CPG!

The 1958 50c Type 2 (struck from retired Proof Dies) is quite scarce (despite the often repeated conventional line that 10% of the mintage is Ty2. Bull crap! ), particularly in high grade; yet does not even merit a listing in the CPG.

Compounding the problem is the infrequency of revisions to the CPG. Years between new editions of the CPG. And right now it looks like we may NEVER see a new edition of the CPG.


New discoveries often don't get a chance, all due to the whims of a closed group of individuals:

A couple of years ago a collector discovered the 1953-S/S/S RPM #2 Franklin Half. The collector went thru the rigamarole of having the variety verified by John Wexler and slabbed as a Discovery piece at ANACS. The collector then had Larry Briggs present the coin to Fivaz who felt that the variety was unworthy of inclusion in "his" book.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Fivaz was busy approving of, basically stupid Franklin die clash varieties like the 1950 and 1952-D "Booger nose" varieties. Remember earlier I stated that, "99.9% of the time the dealer will be told simply, NO?" Well the reason I didn't go with 100% is that Fivaz (and likely a few other "blessed" individuals) CAN and DO get PCGS to recognize new varieties without those varieties having published!

I think that is a terribly unfair way to get things done and hope CAC does not follow down that wrong path. What do you say @JACAC ?


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Comments

  • NicNic
    edited November 2022
    I think CACG should recognize only published varieties. Limiting it to the Redbook fine with me. More important things to do with their time, especially at start up, IMHO.
  • Is there a link?
  • Maybe someone with a digital subscription could provide a link?
  • NGC only recognizes die varieties that it considers major. PCGS will notate any variety if they agree with the attribution. CAC should go the PCGS route because even less pronounced varieties are interesting to most collectors and investors, in my experience.

    Imagine the excitement that would result from CAC recognizing all of the thousands of known and unknown Indian cent varieties, such as the 76 of the 1906 alone:


  • As a practical matter, I'd say that PCGS should stick with its policy. It's only a matter of time before new online resources evolve to review, bless and document varieties in various series. And if they do a good job, the TPG's will come to rely on them (and possibly their numbering systems), and let inferior resources take a back seat.

    And I agree with CACfan. The more varieties recognized by the TPGs, the better.
  • CACfan said:

    NGC only recognizes die varieties that it considers major. PCGS will notate any variety if they agree with the attribution. CAC should go the PCGS route because even less pronounced varieties are interesting to most collectors and investors, in my experience.

    Imagine the excitement that would result from CAC recognizing all of the thousands of known and unknown Indian cent varieties, such as the 76 of the 1906 alone:


    Not necessarily true. NGC will recognize any variety that it sees and agrees with, and instead of applying a "minor variety" tag to it, NGC will assign a Variety Plus number, and catalog it on that page with pictures for all collectors to see. Check their Variety Plus page and you'll see many coins with VP numbers assigned to them that aren't in major publications.

    I find this method much more useful, and head over heels better than what PCGS does. "Minor Variety" on a slab doesn't do much for me, particularly with how PCGS is with attributing varieties. I need to verify that PCGS attribution myself, and without images that's not happening.
  • FlyingAl said:

    CACfan said:

    NGC only recognizes die varieties that it considers major. PCGS will notate any variety if they agree with the attribution. CAC should go the PCGS route because even less pronounced varieties are interesting to most collectors and investors, in my experience.

    Imagine the excitement that would result from CAC recognizing all of the thousands of known and unknown Indian cent varieties, such as the 76 of the 1906 alone:


    Not necessarily true. NGC will recognize any variety that it sees and agrees with, and instead of applying a "minor variety" tag to it, NGC will assign a Variety Plus number, and catalog it on that page with pictures for all collectors to see. Check their Variety Plus page and you'll see many coins with VP numbers assigned to them that aren't in major publications.

    I find this method much more useful, and head over heels better than what PCGS does. "Minor Variety" on a slab doesn't do much for me, particularly with how PCGS is with attributing varieties. I need to verify that PCGS attribution myself, and without images that's not happening.
    You are dead wrong. NGC recognizes merely 6,447 U.S. coin die varieties, as per their website. There are MILLIONS of known die varieties.
  • CACfan said:

    FlyingAl said:

    CACfan said:

    NGC only recognizes die varieties that it considers major. PCGS will notate any variety if they agree with the attribution. CAC should go the PCGS route because even less pronounced varieties are interesting to most collectors and investors, in my experience.

    Imagine the excitement that would result from CAC recognizing all of the thousands of known and unknown Indian cent varieties, such as the 76 of the 1906 alone:


    Not necessarily true. NGC will recognize any variety that it sees and agrees with, and instead of applying a "minor variety" tag to it, NGC will assign a Variety Plus number, and catalog it on that page with pictures for all collectors to see. Check their Variety Plus page and you'll see many coins with VP numbers assigned to them that aren't in major publications.

    I find this method much more useful, and head over heels better than what PCGS does. "Minor Variety" on a slab doesn't do much for me, particularly with how PCGS is with attributing varieties. I need to verify that PCGS attribution myself, and without images that's not happening.
    You are dead wrong. NGC recognizes merely 6,447 U.S. coin die varieties, as per their website. There are MILLIONS of known die varieties.
    Again, they must have the coin submitted for grading, and the submitter must pay to get that variety recognized.
  • FlyingAl said:

    CACfan said:

    FlyingAl said:

    CACfan said:

    NGC only recognizes die varieties that it considers major. PCGS will notate any variety if they agree with the attribution. CAC should go the PCGS route because even less pronounced varieties are interesting to most collectors and investors, in my experience.

    Imagine the excitement that would result from CAC recognizing all of the thousands of known and unknown Indian cent varieties, such as the 76 of the 1906 alone:


    Not necessarily true. NGC will recognize any variety that it sees and agrees with, and instead of applying a "minor variety" tag to it, NGC will assign a Variety Plus number, and catalog it on that page with pictures for all collectors to see. Check their Variety Plus page and you'll see many coins with VP numbers assigned to them that aren't in major publications.

    I find this method much more useful, and head over heels better than what PCGS does. "Minor Variety" on a slab doesn't do much for me, particularly with how PCGS is with attributing varieties. I need to verify that PCGS attribution myself, and without images that's not happening.
    You are dead wrong. NGC recognizes merely 6,447 U.S. coin die varieties, as per their website. There are MILLIONS of known die varieties.
    Again, they must have the coin submitted for grading, and the submitter must pay to get that variety recognized.
    MY REPLY: NGC must first decide to recognize a given variety. They reject more than 99% of those not already accepted by them, as per my own experiences.
  • Note that PCGS recognizes ALL die varieties if they agree with their attributions. But those unlisted in a major reference will be called "minor" even if they are dramatic and extensive, which tends to hurt their values in my experience.
  • CACfan said:

    Note that PCGS recognizes ALL die varieties if they agree with their attributions. But those unlisted in a major reference will be called "minor" even if they are dramatic and extensive, which tends to hurt their values in my experience.

    I still find NGC's service much more extensively researched and better for collectors in general. There is a market for Variety Plus coins, but not for PCGS minor variety coins from what I've seen. Whether NGC agrees with you that the variety is major enough for a VP designation could be the reason their coins have that market.
  • No, PCGS's major variety coins bring more than NGC's in my experience. PCGS's minor varieties still bring more than any non-variety.
  • Also, I have noticed that ANACS no longer lists most varieties in their online population report. Have they stopped recognizing most of them? Or do they consider minor varieties too insignificant to bother counting?
  • CACfan said:

    No, PCGS's major variety coins bring more than NGC's in my experience. PCGS's minor varieties still bring more than any non-variety.

    I wasn't talking about PCGS vs. NGC for major varieties, I was talking about minor varieties. NGC gives them VP numbers, PCGS doesn't do anything except state minor variety.

  • My coin is finally coming home from pcgs! It has been there for 8 months. It is a minor variety and I sure hope they have the variety labeled on the holder.
  • 8 months! Like your giving birth
  • FlyingAl said:

    CACfan said:

    No, PCGS's major variety coins bring more than NGC's in my experience. PCGS's minor varieties still bring more than any non-variety.

    I wasn't talking about PCGS vs. NGC for major varieties, I was talking about minor varieties. NGC gives them VP numbers, PCGS doesn't do anything except state minor variety.

    You are confused. NGC only assigns VP numbers to the 6,447 die varieties they consider major, as per their website. NGC does not notate the millions of varieties they deem minor.

  • edited December 2022
    Question:

    Would you consider the 1956 25C Type B Rev FS-901 to be a minor or major variety?
  • oreville said:

    Question:

    Would you consider the 1956 25C Type B Rev FS-901 to be a minor or major variety?

    It is a major variety because, according to PCGS and NGC, "major" just means that a die variety is listed in a major reference, especially The Cherrypickers' Guide. The extensiveness or drama of the variety is not relevant. There are plenty of varieties that PCGS deems "minor" because they are unlisted despite being more pronounced and significant than most that are listed.
  • edited December 2022
    CACfan said:

    oreville said:

    Question:

    Would you consider the 1956 25C Type B Rev FS-901 to be a minor or major variety?

    It is a major variety because, according to PCGS and NGC, "major" just means that a die variety is listed in a major reference, especially The Cherrypickers' Guide. The extensiveness or drama of the variety is not relevant. There are plenty of varieties that PCGS deems "minor" because they are unlisted despite being more pronounced and significant than most that are listed.
    Reason I asked is that I bought a 1956 25c in NGC MS-67 back in 1997 and thought it had a proof reverse and crossed it in 2012 to PCGS at MS-66 but PCGS designated it a type B reverse which NGC refused to do. Others kept trying to buy my coin afterwards but I refused to sell. CAC green stickered it shortly afterwards.

    i believe CACG has a 70-30 probability of crossing it to 66+ in CAC 2.0.

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